Low Impact Exercises That Are Easy On Joints

low impact exercises elliptical

Exercise is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle, offering numerous physical and mental benefits. However, not all exercises are created equally, especially when it comes to looking after your joint health. Low impact exercise provides a solution for individuals seeking to stay active while minimizing stress on their joints.

Today, we’re reminding you what low impact exercises are and exploring a wide variety of options for you to try. You don’t need an expensive gym membership to incorporate low impact workouts into your regular routine! Read on and see how easy it is to be active without sacrificing joint health.

What Does Low Impact Exercise Mean?

If you missed the first part of this series where we answered the question, “What is low impact exercise?” then you may want to explore that article after this. In the meantime, however, low impact exercise is a type of physical activity focused on putting minimal stress on your joints. In particular, on your knees, hips, and lower back.

Low impact exercises are beneficial for people of all fitness levels, including those recovering from injuries or dealing with chronic joint conditions such as arthritis. They’re less likely to cause discomfort, pain, or injury compared to high impact or high-intensity workouts without losing effectiveness. For those who can do both, you can also combine a routine of high impact and low impact exercise options for a well-rounded workout.

During a low impact exercise, at least one foot typically remains in contact with the ground at all times. This reduces the impact from more high impact activities like running or jumping. They offer a safe and effective way to maintain cardiovascular health, build strength, and improve flexibility without putting excessive strain on your body.

Low Impact Exercises to Try

So, what exactly are some low impact exercises you might want to try? The great thing about these kinds of exercise routines is that you’re not limited to one or two different movements. There are low impact workouts to meet all your needs while respecting any limitations you may have without losing effectiveness.

As always, consult your doctor before you begin any new health routine, including starting a new workout regimen, to make sure you’re in proper condition to do so. Your doctor may also provide professional guidance on how to adapt your low impact exercises to accommodate any health considerations that impact you.

Some popular low impact exercise options to consider are:

  1. Walking
  2. Swimming
  3. Cycling
  4. Yoga or tai chi
  5. Elliptical training
  6. Dance exercise

1. Walking

Walking is one of the simplest, yet highly effective, low impact exercises you can do. It requires no special equipment other than a good pair of walking shoes to support your feet. Taking a brisk walk can help you improve heart health naturally, maintain a healthy weight, and strengthen leg muscles while being gentle on your joints. To increase the intensity, you can try uphill walking or incorporate intervals of faster-paced walking.

Not sure you have time to go walking? Sure you do! Consider taking a short walk during periodic breaks at work to avoid pain from sitting too long. You can also start incorporating a brisk walk after dinner each evening to create a new healthy routine for yourself.

2. Swimming

Swimming is often considered one of the best low impact exercises for people of all ages. The buoyancy of water reduces the stress on your joints while still providing a full-body workout.

Activities like swimming or water aerobics engage multiple muscle groups and help to improve cardiovascular health, especially as you get older. You could even take up water walking if you want to combine going for a walk with the joint-friendly properties of water exercise. 

Going swimming also raises your heart rate, enhancing cardiovascular endurance and helping you reach the optimal amount of weekly recommended exercise. Different swimming techniques require deep and controlled breathing, which can reduce stress and promote relaxation.

3. Cycling

Whether you're cycling outdoors or using a stationary bike, it’s an enjoyable and joint-friendly low impact exercise. Not only is it a fantastic option for improving cardiovascular health but it protects your joints from excessive strain.

Cycling elevates your heart rate, which is ideal for your cardiovascular system and reduces the risk of heart disease. It may also serve as a complementary method to improve lung function. Unlike activities like running, where each step sends a shock through your joints, cycling is a smooth, repetitive motion that is easy on your knees and hips. It also strengthens your lower body, working your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. This can enhance overall stability and support for your joints.

Exercise Tip: You don’t have to start hitting the trails to go cycling. You can get the same benefits of this low impact exercise option by choosing a stationary bike. It’s one of the best home gym equipment additions you can choose.

4. Yoga or Tai Chi

Yoga and tai chi are low impact exercises that prioritize gentle, flowing movements, that are easy on your joints. Yoga incorporates a wide range of poses and stretches, many of which focus on enhancing joint flexibility and reducing stiffness. The slow and deliberate movements of tai chi ensure that your joints are not subjected to sudden or jarring impacts. This gentle approach to low impact workouts minimizes the risk of strain or injury, making these practices suitable for individuals with arthritis or those looking to keep joints healthy.

Practicing yoga or tai chi may also help increase mobility and flexibility. The stretching and controlled movements help to alleviate joint stiffness and enhance your overall range of motion.

Beyond joint health, both yoga and tai chi offer a range of holistic health benefits. They can reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve mental well-being through their controlled breathing components. These practices don’t just offer healthy low impact exercise but also a mindful approach to your well-being that can contribute to a healthier and more balanced life.

4. Elliptical Training

Elliptical training is another highly-effective low impact exercise that’s easy on your joints. It involves using an elliptical machine, which simulates the natural motion of walking or running without the same direct impact on your knees, hips, and back that can occur with activities like running or jogging.

The smooth, gliding motion of the elliptical machine minimizes the impact on your joints, making it an ideal choice for individuals with joint pain or discomfort, as well as those recovering from injuries. One of the most popular low impact exercises for home workout spaces or at the gym, elliptical training provides a full-body workout that engages both your upper and lower body muscles. Incorporating elliptical training into your fitness routine can help improve cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, and strengthen muscles while preserving joint health.

5. Dance Exercise

Rounding out our list of low impact exercises to consider is dance. Dance exercise is a fun and easy way to stay active while being easy on your joints. Some popular dance styles that can be enjoyed as low impact exercises include ballet and ballroom dancing. These dance forms emphasize fluid, controlled movements that promote joint flexibility and balance.

Ballet, known for its graceful and precise movements, helps improve posture, core strength, and joint mobility. Ballroom dancing, including styles like the waltz and foxtrot, provides a great cardiovascular workout while focusing on coordinated steps without high impact on your joints. Both of these dance styles encourage physical activity while providing an enjoyable way to maintain your overall fitness.

Staying active is crucial for maintaining your health and well-being, but it doesn't have to come at the expense of your joints. Low impact exercises offer a safe and effective way to get the physical activity you need without putting excess strain on your body. Whether you choose to walk, swim, cycle, or use an elliptical machine, there are plenty of options to suit your preferences and fitness level.

Remember to choose a zero gravity chair or other self-care equipment to round out your post-workout recovery routine, as well.